Biological and cultural proper functions in comparative perspective

In Ulrich Krohs & Peter Kroes (eds.), Functions in Biological and Artificial Worlds: Comparative Philosophical Perspectives. Mit Press (2009)
Abstract
Both biological traits and artifacts have proper functions. But accounts of proper function are typically based on the biological case. So adapting these accounts to the artifact case requires finding cultural analogues of biological concepts. This can go wrong in two ways. The biological concepts may not pick out either biological or cultural proper functions correctly; or they may have no cultural analogues. I argue that things have gone wrong in the first way with regard to selection and in the second way with regard to fitness. Finally, I argue that the only way forward is to examine the phenomena of reproduction and use in material culture.
Keywords proper function  fitness  natural selection  artifact  reproduction  use
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